Dear family:

Itís been almost two months since Iíve written but the time has surely flown by. There is a lot of excitement here at the moment, because the first snowfall of the season is coming down. The boys have listened with envy to accounts of seven foot snowfalls in Buffalo, and even snow in the Deep South, and have felt seriously ill-used that we have had none. The adults are all grateful for the easy weather, especially for Nana and Poppa, who have enough of an adjustment to make from Hawaiian weather, but the boys have longed for a real winter. I just went over and checked on Mom and Dad, and they seem perfectly cosy and perfectly willing to stay safe inside. We will carry over emergency rations if that becomes necessary!

Since I last wrote they have fully moved in next door, although they join us for dinner. Bit by bit they are furnishing the place with essentials. At the moment, the room with the most stuff in it is the basement, as the bulk of their belongings is memorabilia Ė letters, photos, books, and ancient instruments. They have been surprised at how busy they keep, even without the YWAM responsibilities. Of course, Mom comes over here and ends up doing my laundry and my housekeeping, too! One unexpected benefit of their move here is that we see much more of my brother David than we did before, even though he is only one town over. They usually spend Sundays with him, and he has done more than a few projects around the house for them.

Mom and Dad have found that the role of grandparent is an active one. They have gone with us to a collection of events, such as our church Christmas program, the Masterís Academy Christmas program, the Masterís Academy Enrichment Program, a production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, the Moravian Childrenís Love Feast, not to mention the various soccer games and even the Beedleís Christmas party. When I asked if they wanted to come with us to the Hansellís New Yearís Eve party, they quickly declined and announced their intention of seeing the new year arrive from the comfort of their bed!

So many of these events make up our holiday traditions, and if I were writing more frequently I would have comments to make on each of them. Suffice to say we have enjoyed a lovely holiday. I always go through a few days of sheer panic, when I donít think I will be able to pull it off, and this year was no exception. I very much enjoyed setting up a wrapping camp next door, where I could wrap presents without interruption and listen to Dadís nice stereo system at the same time. I have become comfortable taking a number of shortcuts or postponements (our traditional Chex mix didnít get made till after Christmas, and I still havenít made a batch of homemade cookies) yet we certainly didnít lack in any significant way. In fact, I am better off than last year, as I actually got the Christmas letter written and mailed, and the church presents all made and delivered. We even had the usual post-Christmas colds in a much milder than usual form.

John and Gailís family came from New Jersey, as usual, for several days, and this time they brought along Gailís sister Karen and her family. We managed around twenty people surprisingly well. We purchased a bunch of air beds and everyone had at least that on which to sleep. Michael Carter also came for a few days. We had some fun games of Dictionary and a trip to see Lord of the Rings. I led a walking tour of historic Bethlehem, substituting the thrilling climax of seeing the grave of Tschoop, the Indian on whom James Fenimore Cooper based his Chingachgook, since the putz was closed. Aunt Gail and I took Julianne and Ben bowling, but only after I gave Gail the Grand Tour of our new deluxe grocery store, Wegmanís, which even provides free babysitting. (I also had to take Daniel and Christopher on a similar Grand Tour, and the boys are now accusing me of having a Wegmanís addiction.)

Having John and Gail here (my brother David, too, of course) was kind of a deja vu of Thanksgiving, when we were also together for several days. At Thanksgiving, though, we were consumed with working through a list of 29 items on a to-do list for my parentís house. We had amazingly mild weather, and therefore were able to accomplish most of the list, things both inside and out. The reality dawning on all of us is that by purchasing a house next to ours (and therefore of the same era) Mom and Dad have acquired a bottomless pit of fit-it-up projects, none of which, to quote the famous phrase, is ever simple. However, many hands make work light, and it truly was a lot of fun to be helping all together. Mom was so inspired by the experience that she wants everyone to come again and tackle our basement Ė a task akin to cleaning the Aegean stables!

After our houseguests left, we headed down to the farm for a few days. First we had to go to Baltimore to pick up Danielís clothes, which had inadvertently been left behind when he came home for Christmas. When we arrived at the farm Uncle Allan was cleaning pig stomachs which the boys found fascinating in a gruesome way. I later served stuffed pig stomach for New Yearís Day. Uncle Dale was around more than usual, and we even went out to dinner with him one night. We stopped at the farmerís market on Saturday to see Granddaddy in his element (he has the longest running stall at that market) and have breakfast tenderloin sandwiches at the counter there. Aunt Amy came back from Ohio just in time to have us all over for Sunday dinner. Everyone was in good health and very kind to put up with us descending on them.

With Epiphany the holiday season is officially over, but since we were late in getting our tree up, we are a little loathe to take it down now. Although we must start school work in earnest, we might just hang on to the holiday decorations a bit longer. I have always thought of January as one of the best months. It is a time to snuggle indoors and enjoy oneís Christmas presents. (I got some very nice ones, by the way --books, CDs, and cookies!) Daniel is off in Salt Lake City skiing with his roommateís family this week. He comes home for one day to take care of some dental work, and then he returns to Baltimore.

I think I have touched on the highlights, except one. Mom was harboring a secret which others kept leaking out, though we pretended not to notice. Then finally on Christmas morning she presented each of us with our own copies of her newly published book, Precious Pearls, a collection of autobiographical devotionals. She had been working on this project for a couple years, writing down some family stories as a heritage for us and the grandchildren. It was an uncanny experience for me to read a book in which I could so clearly hear the authorís voice as I read. along. We are so deeply grateful for this legacy. When it is made into a movie, I would like Meg Ryan to have my part! And now we want to encourage Dad to get his stories written.



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